The Essay Question


The Essay Question

Use the following question when designing your thesis and for the full essay #1.

Choose one of the following texts:

  • Ezra Pound’s “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter”
  • Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
  • James Joyce’s “Araby”
  • Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”

Answer the following question as it pertains to your chosen text:

  • Contrast the idea of the social world/civilization with nature (or even just being alone) in the text. What images represent society and what images represent nature/isolation, and how does this contrast shape the text’s meaning? Are there problems or dangers that come with being isolated and away from the social world, or does isolation offer something positive?
  • Consider not just how the text distinguishes civilization from nature, but also how the speaker or narrator interprets nature. Are there problems with this reinterpretation of nature?
  • When we close read, remember that we are not concerned merely with what happens in the text. Rather, we want to discover how the language and symbols create meaning in the text.
  • It is probably best to limit the thesis to one or two specific ideas that best show the contrast between civilization and nature. Each paragraph should be distinct and unified.
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